Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Modality Stew" (US Acid Folk 1978)

Guitarist Sid Brown's first brush with popular recognition came as a member of Detroit's The Spike Drivers. Following the group's mid-1960s breakup Brown followed half of the country to Berkeley, California where he remained active in music, as well as writing a yoga column for the Bezerkly Tribe.

By the mid-1970s Brown was living in Vancouver, Washington where he continued to write and record material. I'll let the liner notes to 1978's "Modality Stew" pick up the story: "The creation of a spontaneous and purposely under-produced album free of technologic overkill and deified gadgetry began in Spring, 1978. For more than a year I had been involved in a mostly unsatisfactory, negative and painful recording project. For me it was a year of alienation, loneliness and a gnawing-knowing stress. As a disabled and dissapated (sic) rock n' roll veteran, it was painfully reminiscent of the not-too-goof-old-days of working for a major label recording company, a cynical manager and jaded producers: a nightmare of exploitation and greed. The depression of repeating history as I guilt-tripped myself into signing an oppressive recording contract lifted as I flew to Athens. Floating in a transcontinental limbo I felt bewitched, bothers and bewildered. Escaping, arriving, still hauling lots of psychic baggage, I did almost all of my site seeing within ... One infinitely long day, lost and abandoned on a resin-wooded mountainside in Crete, halfway around the world I knew where to be and what to do. Spring spoke: "Plant! Grow! Cultivate life!" Returning home to the land of moist ferns towering evergreens and comforting comfrey bushes, the music was happily created and taped within a month. May you enjoy the music. May it warm, heal, stimulate and move you."

So that should have pretty much primed you for the fact this isn't going to be a set of Spike Drivers-styled folk rock. Instead, what you get is a largely acoustic and instrumental slice of new age feel-goodness. Mind you, this has to be one of the first entries in what was to become a mega selling nitch market and Brown certainly deserves considerable credit for coming up with some interesting genre hybrids including 'Banjo Strange-O' which offered up an unlikely mix of bluegrass and raga. I'll also be upfront and tell you that the laidback groove on tracks like 'D-Sense/Descents' and 'Immamj' makes this a perfect Sunday morning album, but by the same token this isn't the most exciting collection you've ever put on your turntable so you probably won't spin it at your next New Year's celebration. Personal favorites include the neat East-meets-West instrumental 'Ragu Improvisation', Brown's straight-ahead bluegrass ditty 'Shady Grove' (the pro-ecology message is both catchy and balanced) and 'Sutra Blues' which features some wild Yoko Ono-on-acid 'gamak' vocals from former Spike Driver Mary Carol Brown.
~Bad Cat Records

Sample pic: 1, 2


Anonymous arbor said...

thanks for this!

10 March, 2008 11:25  
Blogger alex said...

Hi, thanx 4 this and all the other wonderful stuff on your blog...

Your contributions are sterling and I am in awe of the work you have put into this site...

you are a ☆☆☆☆☆

thanx again

23 April, 2008 02:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please Re-up this gem?

20 August, 2011 10:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man,
I really dig this particular album,
any chance you could put it up again?
I would really appreciate it to an unfathomable extent...

13 October, 2011 03:38  
Blogger Don said...

I recorded and mixed this album... one of the best things I've done in over (now) 40 years of recording and producing. It was a magical time and Sid was simply amazing to work with, along with all of the other musicians.

02 April, 2014 19:07  

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